As a sufferer of migraines, I get how debilitating and frightening these can be, especially as a child. Migraines usually occur on one side, at the back or front of the head, and early signs of an attack might include flashing lights, partial blindness or numbness. Some suffers have a sensitivity to light or noise, tingling sensations or vomiting. In fact, attacks are often accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting.
Migraines normally develop between the teens and the 40’s, and are more common in a woman, which is linked to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. Some children can also have migraine attacks, usually around the start of puberty, and at this age, boys normally develop these headaches before the girls.
Causes of Migraines
The reason for migraines is unclear and most migraine sufferers will find they have an attack for no apparent reason, however, in some case there may be certain triggers.
Nutritionist, Gareth Zeal says “almost 90% of migraine cases I see are linked to food intolerances”, and this can be especially true for children. As many migraines are linked to food intolerances such as cheese, chocolate or alcohol, it would be a good idea to complete a food diary and try to identify any personal triggers.
However, changes in weather, stress or lack of sleep can also trigger an attack. Common causes include stress, insufficient breakfast and lunch, bright lights, lack of food, travelling, loud noises, strong smells, and dehydration.
Help with migraine attacks
Diet - Try changing to a whole food diet including plenty of fish, chicken, fresh vegetables, fruit, mineral water, and natural fruit juices. Low blood sugar has also been linked to attacks, so ensure you eat healthy meals on a regular basis. Keeping a food diary to see if certain foods trigger an attach is also a good idea. Some people find that eating actually helps, but keep meals light.
Drinks – avoid sugary drinks and alcohol. If you or your child are sick with migraines, try peppermint tea during the day, and lots of water. Ginger and Rosemary tea can also be very beneficial.
Technology - restrict the time spent on phones and tablets. The position of the head and neck (constantly looking down) can create neck tension. If you work on a PC or laptop, take regular breaks and practice neck and shoulder stretching exercises to reduce the tension build up which can often lead to headaches and/or migraine attacks.
Relax – Try to get plenty of rest, relaxation and sleep. Problems are exasperated by stress, so learn to meditate and practice some form of relaxation. Sleep is one of the best remedies. In most cases, lying in a darkened room, or sleeping will be all that is needed to relieve a migraine attack. Regular exercise is also a good idea to reduce stress, tension and release the body’s natural endorphins.
Medication - Painkillers such as paracetamol are effective in many cases, and it’s best to take them in the early stages, as the stomach cannot easily absorb the tablets during a migraine. Over the counter tablets are also available, which combine painkillers with anti-sickness drugs. In severe cases, there are some medications that can help to prevent the onset of attacks, and should be taken daily, which are beta-blockers and anti-depressants.
Having said that, taking anti-migraine medication can prevent attacks, but too much medication can also trigger one. You should aim to make a few days a week medication free.
Essential oil compress for Relief at home
Headaches are one of the most common health complaints. In many cases they can be easily treated with small changes such as getting more rest, and drinking more water so you stay well hydrated. Migraines are less common than headaches. A soothing compress can bring relief during an attack.
Calming Lavender and peppermint compress
With its gentle stimulating and analgesic properties, peppermint is an established treatment for tension headaches, working in a similar way to paracetamol. It’s cooling action clears and refreshes the mind, Relaxing lavender helps to bring relief to headaches caused by anxiety and stress.
1 tsp almond oil
3 drops peppermint oil
2 drops lavender oil
How to make:
1. Fill a bowel with warm water. Add the essential oils to the almond oil, then add to the water.
2. Soak a flannel in the bowel, then remove the flannel and squeeze out the excess water.
3. Place the compress on the forehead. Leave until it cools to body temperature and repeat 3 times.
Migraines and Indian Head Massage
Indian head massage is often viewed as a real ‘treat’. But actually, Indian Head Massage isn’t simply a ‘treat’ – the benefits are really rather crucial and can assist with a variety of physical and emotional problems. Massage is thought to relieve pain by releasing the chemical serotonin. Serotonin and migraines are believed to be related.
Indian head massage is an ancient therapeutic treatment that has been practiced in India for thousands of years, and is incredibly relaxing. Part of the practice of Ayurveda, Indian head massage focuses on your head, neck and shoulders. It is a deep massage, which uses a variety of pressure and techniques that tap into your seven "'chakras" or paths of energy and encourage healing and balance in your whole body.
It is a wonderfully relaxing, stress-busting, massage treatment, especially good at targeting and reducing the tension we carry around our head, neck, shoulders and upper back. This kind of upper body muscle tension could be the cause of your migraines, tension headaches or stiff neck.
An Indian head massage stimulates the flow of blood, lymph and oxygen in your upper body which will clear your sinuses, relieve stress and help you sleep better. And because it can help cure headaches (even migraine), eye strain and anxiety, an Indian head massage can even help you to concentrate better at work.
All in all, the benefits of an Indian head massage will leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.
Migraine Awareness Week from 3rd to 9th September is an annual campaign designed to increase awareness, education and reduce stigma for the 1 in 7 people who suffer with migraines, (that’s over 9 million people in the UK alone). For more information about living with migraines, research and support visit the migraine trust at www.migrainetrust.org
Love & Light to all sufferers.